a ring is a ring is a ring student interview - Heather Clifton | BAJ

a ring is a ring is a ring student interview – Heather Clifton

a ring is a ring is a ring student interview – Heather Clifton

a ring is a ring is a ring showcases the work of a year-long collaboration between students of three leading European Jewellery Schools: Alchimia: Contemporary Jewellery School, Florence, Italy, Hochschule Trier, Idar Oberstein, Germany and British Academy of Jewellery, London & Birmingham, UK. In this series, we interview the students who participated in the project.

Can you tell us a little more about the piece you have on display in the show?

My ring depicts a whirlwind, or vortex, with the eye of the storm at its centre. I was seeking to represent the swirling thoughts of an anxious mind and the power of nature to restore a sense of calm and tranquillity. The ring is made from 12 continuous lengths of silver and copper wire, wound around a template made from hardened epoxy resin putty, to form the shape of the vortex and shank, then it is set with a citrine cabochon in a wire collet, to gave it the pure, clear centre I was seeking.

A Ring Is A Ring Is A Ring Exhibition

So the show is titled A RING is A RING is  A RING, can you tell us what a ring is to you?

A ring is the most important piece of jewellery, for me, because it usually is what a person chooses to wear all the time, so it represents their true personality,  where their sentiments truly lie.  Other jewellery pieces may be worn out to match clothes or to produce a certain look, but once they have been put away in their box for the night, often the only piece left on the person is the ring. It has the most meaning.

What other pieces in the show do you find interesting and why?

Of the many striking rings that the students have produced, the one that springs to mind is Silvia’s ring with its hidden reel of film, which I thought was very clever. It looked simple, yet it was full of memories within it, and it was beautifully made and seemed to me to a perfect example of what we were trying to achieve.

This was a collaborative project and included 3 other schools, what was the experience like and what have you learned from it?

The experience was unforgettable, inspiring, mind boggling and challenging. It opened my eyes and my mind to designing jewellery in a whole new way, to have the confidence to consider materials I never before had considered using, to look at shapes, forms, colours and textures afresh. The process, which we were led through by talented tutors at the BAJ, at Alchimia and Hochschule Trier, was like having a blindfold removed, enabling us to see things in a whole new light. Before I embarked on the project, I had no idea what form my ring would take, that I would end up twisting 12 lengths of wire into a shape of a whirlwind. I suppose I expected to produce a piece of fine jewellery, painstakingly crafted and finished, made with traditional techniques. But step-by-step, as the project unfolded, as we worked through the meanings and memories we wanted to convey, it became clear that to be true to that process, a rather random whirlwind was what my contribution would have to be, like it or not!

What is your background?

I am a journalist by profession, living in Maidenhead, 30 miles west of London, and work for a local newspaper, and have three children, the youngest of whom is 17. I have come late to jewellery design and manufacture, being in my mid-50s, but it’s something I’ll be doing, in my workshop in my garden, for the rest of my life.

Why have you become a jeweller?

The number of people employed in newspapers is declining fast as reading habits change, and with circulation and advertising revenues in freefall. I realised I needed to develop a new career, in case I lost my job. Journalism is a subjective business, an art, and although jewellery design and manufacture also have its creative, artistic elements, I also immediately loved the science of working with precious metal and gemstones, the techniques which bring about a given result – the heating, soldering, sawing, filing, polishing, and so on. There is also a call for quality hand-made bespoke jewellery in my home town, and this business potential appeals to me.

What are your plans for the future?

Having finished three years at the British Academy of Jewellery, levels 2 to 4 in Jewellery Manufacture and Design, I am now working from my workshop developing several collections that have emerged from the projects we have undertaken.

Why should someone visit the show?

Every student involved has spent months on a journey of exploration, burning the midnight oil, spilling blood, sweat and tears, at times, to produce the pieces on display. There are some flashes of creative brilliance, pieces that are clever, others that are baffling, thought-provoking, challenging your very concept of what a ring is. 

Where can we find more information about you and your work?

The name of my company is Windmill Jewellery, and eventually, I will have a website, but not yet, so there is no information about me and my work, as yet,  I’m afraid.

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